Saturday, August 15, 2009

Civil War Jesuit: Fr. Joseph B. O’Hagan, S.J

Serving as a Chaplain involved many trials, and Chaplain O’Hagan steeled himself to the task by thinking of the tribulations and obstacles that Saint Francis Xavier overcame in his day. In time he came to appreciate the courage amply displayed by his fellow soldiers on many a battlefield and how well most of them responded to military discipline and to his own efforts to encourage them to remember their religious duties.

He became good friends with a Protestant Chaplain in the Brigade, Joseph Twichell, who was rather shocked when O’Hagan took him on a visit to Georgetown and found that the Jesuits liked to eat, smoke and drink! (One can imagine the tales that Twichell had been told about Catholic priests in general, and Jesuits in particular, as he was brought up!) At Fredericksburg they huddled together for warmth under the same blanket, which caused Father O’Hagan to laugh at the idea of a Jesuit priest and a New England Puritan minister in such close proximity! A good memoir of O’Hagan by another Protestant Chaplain is here. It speaks well of Father O’Hagan that his Protestant colleagues regarded him with so much fondness.

During the fighting at Fair Oaks in 1862, Father O’Hagan was briefly captured and held in Richmond. A New York Times articles on his experiences as a POW is here.

Link (here) to the full post at The American Catholic, scroll down and read the lively comments section.

Go (here) to read the a response by Nathan O'Hollaran, S.J. at Whoever So Desires.

This is Nathan's introduction.

I take a break to answer this question since it was a matter of some debate at The American Catholic following a few posts on Jesuits in the military. The articles have been written by one Donald R. McClarey. In response to a comment about Ignatius leaving the military, one commentator (Rick) states: “Seems the Company of Jesus is related to the military in its very makeup and its founder’s roots and vision.” Donald chimes in a couple of posts later, agreeing: “And Saint Ignatius was the General of the Order, required military style obedience, used military imagery throughout his writings and had no qualms about Jesuits serving as military chaplains. Rick nails it.” Well, most of that is not quite right. Actually, it is quite wrong, but is a prevalent myth that circulates. So I thought it high time to clear up a few questions.

Read his full piece (here)

No comments: